Mt. Massive - 14,421 ft
Climbers: George Barnes, Jim Wise, Brian Schuster
Route: West Slopes II, Class 2, Moderate Snow
RT distance: 8.5 miles
RT time: 8 hours 15 minutes
Elevation gain: 4,300 feet
Coordinates of TH: 39,09.183,-106,27.772
Coordinates of summit: 39,11.235,-106,28.530
USGS Quadrangles: Mount Massive
Brian, Jim, and I drove to the N. Halfmoon Creek TH on Saturday night so we could get an early start on Sunday. The forecast was for afternoon thunderstorms and we'd planned to get all 4 named summits of Massive, so an early start was in order. We awoke at 4 AM, and signed the trail register by 4:40.
With Jim in the lead, we flew up the trail below tree line, stopping only to remove a layer of clothing. Above 11,200 we started encountering snow on the trail and route finding became more of a challenge. By about 12,600 the trail was completely snow covered and we were on our own for route finding. Instead of trekking across the large snowy flats at 12,600, we opted to ascend the east side of a ridge, which we'd later find went to the summit of Massive Green. Our ascent route is shown with red dots in the first picture.
Ascent route shown in first picture
This ascent route turned into a great snow climb. The snow was largely crusted/frozen from the night before, so Brian and I could run right up on crampons. Without crampons, Jim had less fun, but was able to follow in our footsteps. I was able to wear my crampons all the way to the summit of Massive Green.
Once on the summit of Massive Green we could see the ridge to North Massive. The weather was a bit questionable and the summit is over 1/2 a mile away on a class 3 ridge, so we opted to save it for a later day (and perhaps combine it with UN 14169 and UN 13140).
We didn't waste any time getting off the cold windy summit and onto the somewhat protected saddle. Brian and I kept our crampons on for a short snow climb up the saddle, and then removed them for the rest of the day. The cold wind had created some hoarfrost on the windward side of the ridge.
Just after 10 AM we reached the main summit of Mt. Massive. The summit was largely protected from the wind and the weather had cleared up, so we lounged for almost half an hour.
Mount Oklahoma was still looking very snowy, while Elbert had almost no snow!
Peaks in the Elk range were readily visible from the summit of Massive, though they're nearly 30 miles away.
Elk Range (with 10X zoom) - Snowmass, Maroon Bells, Cathedral Peak
By 10:30 AM it was time to get moving and grab South Massive on our way down. Thirty five minutes later we were on our third fourteener for the day.
After descending several hundred feet of nasty talus, we made our way to snow and began a series of glissades down the mountain. After over 1,000 feet of sliding, we made it back to the trucks at 12:55 PM.
Mt. Massive from the east